100 greatest classical composers

100 greatest classical composers DEFAULT

Classical the complete list

ComposerName of PiecePeriodADAMS, John ()The Chairman Dances20th centuryALLEGRI, Gregorio ()Allegri's MiserereRenaissanceBACH, Johann Sebastian ()

'Badinerie' from Orchestral Suite No. 2 in B minor

BaroqueBACH, Johann Sebastian ()Brandeburg Concerto No.5, 1st movtBaroqueBACH, Johann Sebastian ()Toccata and Fugue in D minor, 'Toccata'BaroqueBACH, Johann Sebastian ()

'Air on a G String' from Orchestral Suite No.3 in D

BaroqueBARBER, Samuel ()Barber's Adagio for Strings20th centuryBARTÓK, Béla ()Romanian Dances, ‘Joc cu Bâtă’20th centuryBEETHOVEN, Ludwig van ()Symphony No. 5 in C minorClassicalBEETHOVEN, Ludwig van () 

‘Ode to Joy’ from Symphony No. 9 in D minor

Classical BEETHOVEN, Ludwig van () Für EliseClassical BEETHOVEN, Ludwig van () 

'Moonlight Sonata', Piano Sonata No. 14 in C sharp minor - 1st movt

Classical BERNSTEIN, Leonard ()‘Mambo’ from Symphonic Dances from West Side Story20th centuryBIZET, Georges ()March of the Toreadors from Carmen Suite No.1RomanticBIZET, Georges () 'Farandole' from L’Arlesienne Suite No. 2Romantic BRAHMS, Johannes ()Hungarian Dance No.5RomanticBRITTEN, Benjamin ()The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, 'Fugue'20th centuryCHOPIN, Frédéric ()'Raindrop' Prelude Op. 28 No. 15Romantic

COPLAND, Aaron ()

'Hoe Down' from Rodeo20th centuryCOPLAND, Aaron () Fanfare for the Common Man20th centuryde FALLA, Manuel ()'Ritual Fire Dance' from El Amor Brujo20th centuryDEBUSSY, Claude ()Prélude à l’apres-midi d’un fauneRomanticDELIBES, Léo ()'Flower Duet' from LakméRomanticDUKAS, Paul ()The Sorcerer’s ApprenticeRomanticDVORAK, Antonín ()'Largo' from Symphony No. 9 in E minor, 'From the New World'RomanticDVORAK, Antonín () 

Slavonic Dance, No. 8

RomanticELGAR, Edward ()Cello Concerto in E minor, 1st movtRomanticELGAR, Edward () 

Nimrod from Enigma Variations

RomanticELGAR, Edward () 

Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 in D

RomanticFAURÉ, Gabriel ()

Pavane in F-sharp minor

RomanticFAURÉ, Gabriel () 'Berceuse' from Dolly SuiteRomantic FITKIN, Graham ()Hook20th centuryGERSHWIN, George ()Rhapsody in Blue20th centuryGRAINGER, Percy ()Londonderry Air20th centuryGRIEG, Edvard ()'Morning Mood' from Peer Gynt Suite No.1RomanticGRIEG, Edvard () 

Piano Concerto in A minor, 1st movt

Romantic GRIEG, Edvard () 'Gavotte' from Holberg SuiteRomanticHANDEL, George Frideric ()'Hallelujah Chorus' from MessiahBaroqueHANDEL, George Frideric () 

'Hornpipe' from Water Music Suite No. 1 in F major

Baroque HAYDN, Joseph ()

Trumpet Concerto, 3rd movt

ClassicalHAYDN, Joseph () 'Surprise' Symphony No. 94 in G major, 2nd movtClassical HÉROLD, Ferdinand ()

Clog Dance from La Fille Mal Gardée

RomanticHILDEGARD VON BINGEN ()O EuchariEarlyHOLST, Gustav ()'Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity' from The Planets20th centuryHUMPERDINCK, Engelbert ()
'Evening Prayer' from Hansel and GretelRomanticKATS-CHERNIN, Elena ()

'Eliza's Aria' from Wild Swans

21st centuryKHACHATURIAN, Aram ()

 'Sabre Dance' from Gayaneh Suite, No.3

20th centuryKODÁLY, Zoltán ()'Viennese Musical Clock' from Hary Janos Suite20th centuryMENDELSSOHN, Felix ()'Scherzo' from A Midsummer Night’s DreamRomanticMENDELSSOHN, Felix ()'Fingal’s Cave', Hebrides OvertureRomanticMONTEVERDI, Claudio ()'Ave Maris Stella' from Vespers of the Blessed VirginBaroqueMOZART, Wolfgang Amadeus () Clarinet Concerto in A major, 2nd movt ClassicalMOZART, Wolfgang Amadeus () Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, 1st movement ClassicalMOZART, Wolfgang Amadeus () Horn Concerto No. 4 in E flat major, 3rd movt ClassicalMOZART, Wolfgang Amadeus ()'Papageno's Song' from The Magic FluteClassicalMOZART, Wolfgang Amadeus ()

Symphony No. 40 in G minor, 1st movt 

ClassicalMUSSORGSKY, Modest ()'Baba Yaga' from Pictures at an ExhibitionRomanticMUSSORGSKY, Modest ()Night on a Bare Mountain 
RomanticORFF, Carl ()'O Fortuna' from Carmina BuranaRomanticPACHELBEL, Johann () Canon in D Baroque  PROKOFIEV, Sergei () 'Peter's theme' from Peter and the Wolf20th century  PROKOFIEV, Sergei ()'Dance of the Knights' from Romeo and Juliet20th centuryPROKOFIEV, Sergei ()'Troika' from Lieutenant Kijé20th centuryPUCCINI, Giacomo ()

'Nessun Dorma' from Turandot

20th centuryPURCELL, Henry ()  'Dido’s Lament' from Dido and AeneasBaroqueRACHMANINOV, Sergei ()  Piano Concerto No.2 in C minor, 1st movt  RomanticRAVEL, Maurice ()  Boléro20th centuryREICH, Steve ()  Six Pianos20th centuryRIMSKY KORSAKOV, Nikolai ()Flight of the Bumble BeeRomanticRIMSKY KORSAKOV, Nikolai () Scheherazade, 2nd movement  Romantic  RODRIGO, Joaquín ()  

Concierto de Aranjuez, 2nd movt

20th centuryROSSINI, Gioachino ()  William Tell, OvertureClassicalRUTTER, John ()Shepherd's Pipe Carol20th centurySAINT-SAENS, Camille ()  'Aquarium' from Carnival of the AnimalsRomanticSAINT-SAENS, Camille ()  Danse Macabre  RomanticSCHUBERT, Franz ()  'The Trout' from Piano Quintet in A majorClassicalSCHUBERT, Franz () Marche Militaire  Classical SCHUMANN, Clara ()Andante Molto from Romances for violin and pianoRomanticSCHUMANN, Robert ()  ‘About foreign lands and people’ from KinderszenenRomanticSHOSTAKOVICH, Dmitri ()  'Waltz' from Jazz Suite No.220th centurySHOSTAKOVICH, Dmitri () Symphony No. 5, 4th movement  20th century  SIBELIUS, Jean ()  Intermezzo from Karelia Suite
RomanticSOUSA, John Philip ()  Liberty Bell  RomanticSTRAUSS II, Johann ()By the Beautiful Danube  RomanticSTRAUSS, Richard ()  

Also Sprach Zarathustra, 'Sunrise'

RomanticSTRAVINSKY, Igor ()

'Russian Dance' from Petrushka

20th centuryTALLIS, Thomas ()If ye love me  RenaissanceTAVENER, John ()  The Lamb20th centuryTCHAIKOVSKY, Pyotr Ilyich () OvertureRomanticTCHAIKOVSKY, Pyotr Ilyich () 'Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy' from The NutcrackerRomanticVAUGHAN WILLIAMS, Ralph ()  

Fantasia on Greensleeves

20th centuryVAUGHAN WILLIAMS, Ralph () The Lark Ascending20th centuryVAUGHAN WILLIAMS, Ralph () The Wasps, Overture20th centuryVERDI, Giuseppe ()  Grand March from AidaRomanticVERDI, Giuseppe () 'La Donna è Mobile' from RigolettoRomanticVIVALDI, Antonio ()  

Gloria, 'Gloria in excelsis Deo'

BaroqueVIVALDI, Antonio ()   Winter from Four SeasonsBaroque  WAGNER, Richard ()  

Ride of the Valkyries, Die Walküre

RomanticWARLOCK, Peter ()  Mattachins from Capriol Suite20th centuryWIDOR, Charles-Marie ()Organ Symphony No. 5, Toccata  Romantic
Sours: https://www.classicfm.com/classical/full-list/

Greatest Classical Music Composers of All time

beethoven vs mozart

Famous Classical Music Composers of all time: Classical music continues to inspire even today, especially the works by the greatest composers of all times. These masters may have lived hundreds of years ago, but their masterpieces still impress and inspire.

Table of Contents


The Classical period in music history took place from around to about Classical music was characterized by the importance of the sonata form, a construction that, in its simplest terms, consists of a thematic material (exposition), development and a return of the original themes (recapitulation). Another significant development of the Classical period was the rise of instrumental music, especially the symphony. Three of the most famous and influential composers of the Classical period were Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (), Franz Joseph Haydn () and Ludwig van Beethoven ().

Johann Sebastian Bach ()

German organist, composer, violist and violinist, Bach wrote over compositions which include cantatas, songs and arias, chorales, passions and oratorios, organ works, works for harpsichord, concertos. Best known works by Bach include the Brandenburg Concertos, Air on the G String, Toccata and Fugue in D minor and Arioso.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (

Austrian composer Mozart mastered keyboard and violin at the age of 5. A child prodigy in music performance, Mozart was famous even before he began composing for a living, and entertained royalty throughout Europe. His father took him on tours of Europe–often lying about his age to make his skills seem even more impressive. Mozart composed his first piece at the age of 5 and his first opera, “La Finta Semplice” (“The Feigned Simpleton”) at the age of He is best known for his later operas, including “The Marriage of Figaro” (), “Don Giovanni” () and “The Magic Flute” (). His final work, a Requiem (funeral mass), was left unfinished at his death; it was completed by his student, Franz Xaver Sussmayr.

Mozart composed over works. Popular Mozart works include Requiem, Symphony No. 40, operas The Magic Flute and The Marriage of Figaro, Piano Sonata No 16 in C Major, Symphony No. 25, Piano Concerto No. 21 and Piano Sonata No. 11 (Mov. 3 – Turkish March).

Ludwig van Beethoven ()

German composer and pianist was the tallest figure during transition period between Classical and Romantic, and also considered as one of the most famous classical music composers of all times. Beethoven is often cited as a Romantic composer, but while his work exemplifies the transition between the two musical periods, it is firmly anchored in the Classical tradition. Although Beethoven wrote one opera, “Fidelio,” he is best known for his symphonies. His Ninth Symphony, which includes the well-known chorus “Ode to Joy,” was revolutionary at the time; its implication that music required poetry to reach its full potential helped inspire the Romantic Opera composer Richard Wagner’s theory of Gesamtkunstwerk (the complete integration of music, drama and poetry). Beethoven’s work is also profoundly significant because of the deafness he developed later in life. He composed many of his pieces without the benefit of hearing them, simply from the memory of the instruments’ sounds.

Popular works include 9th symphony (created after he became deaf), Sonata No. 14 (Moonlight Sonata), 5th Symphony, 6th Symphony, Bagatelle No. 25 (Für Elise) and Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat major, Op

Giuseppe Verdi ()

Italian composer best known for his operas was a dominant figure of the 19th century Italian classical music. Popular operas include Nabucco, La traviata, Rigoletto, Aida, Don Carlos, Otello and Falstaff.

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky ()

Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky was a big Mozart fan and did some outstanding work. Popular works include Swan Lake, the Nutcracker and Sleeping Beauty.

Frederic Chopin ()

Polish composer Chopin was a gifted child. The virtuoso pianist wrote two piano concertos and three sonatas, and is also credited with the invention of the instrumental ballade and several musical innovations. Popular works include Nocturne in E-flat major, Op. 9 No. 2, Funeral March (Prelude in C minor), Minute Waltz (Waltz in D-flat major), Revolutionary Etude (Op, No) and Fantasie-Impromptu (Op. Posth. 66).

Antonio Vivaldi ()

Italian Baroque composer and violin virtuoso Vivaldi is known for instrumental concertos for violin. Vivaldi composed over concertos, most of them for solo instruments and strings, mainly for violin. His greatest masterpiece is a series of violin concertos called Le quattro stagioni (The Four Seasons). Other works include operas, sacred choral music, symphonies, sonatas and chamber music.

George Frideric Handel ()

One of the greatest masters of Baroque era, German-born British composer Handel wrote over 40 operas, 29 oratories, more than cantatas, duets and trios, 16 organ concertos and a number of arias, ecumenical pieces, chamber music, odes and serenatas. Popular works include the Messiah, Sarabande, Water Music and Music for the Royal Fireworks.

Franz Joseph Haydn ()

Haydn was a prolific composer; 19 operas, symphonies, 68 string quartets and 62 piano trios are included in his work. Though he struggled as a young musician, he found success in the court of the Esterházy princes, where he served as Kappelmeister (director of music) for more than 40 years. Several of his better-known pieces include the “Surprise” symphony (No. 94), the “Creation” oratorio () and the “Kaiserhymne” or “Emperor’s Hymn” (), which became the Austrian national anthem (and later the national anthem of Germany, “Deutschland, Deutschland uber alles”). Unlike Mozart and Beethoven, he died a rich man.

Igor Stravinsky ()

Russian born French and then American composer, conductor and pianist Stravinsky was an influential 20th century composer. Popular works include The Firebird, Petrushka, The Rite of Spring, A Soldier’s Tale, The Song of the Nightingale, Mavra, Oedipus Rex, the Symphony in C and the Symphony in Three Movements.

Claude Debussy ( – )

French composer Claude Debussy composed several innovative works throughout his career, including the well-loved “Clair de Lune.”

Greatest Classical Music Composer

Here’s a list of the Best Greatest Classical Music Composers of all time, from around the world.

1. Ludwig Van Beethoven –
2. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart –
3. Johann Sebastian Bach –
4. Richard Wagner –
5. Joseph Haydn –
6. Johannes Brahms –
7. Franz Schubert –
8. Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky –
9. George Frideric Handel –
Igor Stravinsky –
Robert Schumann –
Frederic Chopin –
Felix Mendelssohn –
Claude Debussy –
Franz Liszt –
Antonin Dvorak –
Giuseppe Verdi –
Gustav Mahler –
Hector Berlioz –
Antonio Vivaldi –
Richard Strauss –
Serge Prokofiev –
Dmitri Shostakovich –
Béla Bartók –
Anton Bruckner –
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina –
Claudio Monteverdi –
Jean Sibelius –
Maurice Ravel –
Ralph Vaughan Williams –
Modest Mussorgsky –
Giacomo Puccini –
Henry Purcell –
Gioacchino Rossini –
Edward Elgar –
Sergei Rachmaninoff –
Camille Saint-Saëns –
Josquin Des Prez – c
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov –
Carl Maria von Weber –
Jean-Philippe Rameau –
Jean-Baptiste Lully –
Gabriel Fauré –
Edvard Grieg –
Christoph Willibald Gluck –
Arnold Schoenberg –
Charles Ives –
Paul Hindemith –
Olivier Messiaen –
Aaron Copland –
Francois Couperin –
William Byrd –
Erik Satie –
Benjamin Britten –
Bedrick Smetana –
César Franck –
Alexander Nikolayevich Scriabin –
Georges Bizet –
Domenico Scarlatti –
Georg Philipp Telemann –
Anton Webern –
Roland de Lassus –
George Gershwin –
Gaetano Donizetti –
Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach –
Archangelo Corelli –
Thomas Tallis –
Jules Massenet –
Johann Strauss II –
Leos Janácek –
Guillaume de Machaut –
Alban Berg –
Alexander Borodin –
Vincenzo Bellini –
Charles Gounod –
Francis Poulenc –
Giovanni Gabrieli –
Pérotin –
Heinrich Schütz –
John Cage –
Giovanni Battista Pergolesi –
John Dowland –
Gustav Holst –
Dietrich Buxtehude –
Ottorino Respighi –
Guillaume Dufay –
Hugo Wolf –
Carl Nielsen –
William Walton –
Darius Milhaud –
Orlando Gibbons –
Giacomo Meyerbeer –
Samuel Barber –
Tomás Luis de Victoria –
Léonin –
Manuel de Falla –
Hildegard von Bingen –
Mikhail Glinka –
Alexander Glazunov –
Don Carlo Gesualdo –

Source: digitaldreamdoor.com

More Classical Composers

American Classical Composer Stephen Paulus
Stephen Paulus was a popular American composer, who was known for his melodic operas and choral works, including an operatic version of “The Postman Always Rings Twice”. He composed over pieces, including 13 operas and at least choral works. Paulus He wrote in pen on manuscript paper, then scanned his work into a computer.

His compositions were reliably accessible and often lyrical, if not boldly innovative, and he took pride in his versatility and broad appeal. It helped ensure him a select line of work: He was one of the few people to make a living solely by writing classical music.

Here’s what the classical composer once said about his working style.

“You work at it every day, the same way a lawyer would work at a job every day or a physician or a carpenter, whatever. And the more you work at it, the better you get.”

While the music of some of his contemporaries could be atonal and elusive, his was often lush and extravagant. Joseph McLellan, the longtime classical music critic for The Washington Post, described his style as neo-romanticism.

“This means an effort to embody strong emotions in music, to return to melody and often to a sense of tonality. It also implies colorful orchestration and free-ranging imagination — in a word, music that tries to reach the average music lover, whether or not it conforms to academic procedures and criteria,” wrote Mr. McLellan wrote in

Mr. Paulus composed several popular shorter pieces, including “Pilgrims’ Hymn,” which was performed at the funerals of Presidents Ronald Reagan and Gerald R. Ford.

Stephen Harrison Paulus received his bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Minnesota in before earning his master’s and doctorate.

Source: nytimes.com

Classical music facing issues like racism and class?

Jamaican contemporary music composer Eleanor Alberga says there’s ‘hesitancy or even condescension in welcoming black people as part of the classical music family’. Says composers from minority groups do not fit into classical music’s “inner club”

When it comes to certain genres of music, such as jazz or reggae, you would expect the musician or composer to have a Afro-Caribbean ethnic background.

However, when it comes to Classical music, these musicians seem to be missing from the action.

So is it that classical music is not receptive to such musicians? Composer Eleanor Alberga definitely feels so.

Alberga has written for the Royal Philharmonic, the London Philharmonic and the Mozart Players, and her work Arise, Athena! opened last year’s Last Night of the Proms.

Eleanor Alberga said the classical music world is “not very inclusive and I suspect there are wider issues here, like unconscious racism and class”.

Research shows that in most cases, composers were commissioned by artistic directors or through other personal networks, rather than through open processes.

Susanna Eastburn, chief executive of charity Sound & Music, added that “the system is somehow weighted against diversity and against the encouragement of diversity, so we think that interventions are necessary”.

Another composer, Daniel Kidane, recounted how a recent book on composers had included none from minority ethnic groups. “There is still a sense of them and us,” he said.

Composer Priti Paintal advocated introducing quotas for organisations like the BBC and Arts Council England to ensure minorities were fairly represented.

Read full story here…

Watch: Eleanor Alberga interview

Warner Music Award for Classical Musicians: , Cash & Recording Offer

Now this is something that will cheer up serious classical music students, who really want to make a career in classical music.

The Warner Music Group is establishing the Warner Music Prize, a new classical music award, to be given annually to a musician between 18 and 35 who demonstrates exceptional promise during a season in which his or her performances are seen by a jury of classical musicians and music industry executives. The award includes a $, cash prize, and a recording offer from Warner Classics.

For its first year, Warner is collaborating with Carnegie Hall: the performances to be judged are part of the hall’s current schedule, and the winner – who will be announced in the spring – will perform at Zankel Hall as part of the Warner Music Prize Gala, next Oct. A spokeswoman for the prize said that the award would be associated with a different hall or performing arts institution every year. The prize is also supported by the Blavatnik Family Foundation, which underwrites educational, scientific and cultural projects.

The musicians under consideration for the prize are two sopranos, Sarah Shafer and Jennifer Zetlan; the mezzo-sopranos Jamie Barton, Rachel Calloway, Cecelia Hall, Alisa Kolosova and Peabody Southwell; the tenor Dominic Armstrong; the bass-baritones Aubrey Allicock and Evan Hughes; the violinists Augustin Hadelich and Itamar Zorman; the cellist Brook Speltz; the double-bassist Roman Patkolo; the harpist Sivan Magen; and the pianist Behzod Abduraimov.


KeytarHQ editorial team includes musicians who write and review products for pianists, keyboardists, guitarists & other musicians. KeytarHQ is the best online resource for information on keyboards, pianos, synths, keytars, guitars and music gear for musicians of all abilities, ages and interests.

Filed Under: Classical Music

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Greatest Classical Composers

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Classic - composers

  1. An image of composer Ludwig van Beethoven with stylised musical notation overlayed in tones of teal.

    Ludwig van Beethoven

    German –

    Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer and pianist. He is one of the most influential composers of all time and was central to the transition between the classical and romantic eras of music.

    While hearing loss cut short his career as a pianist, he composed some of his most celebrated works while almost completely deaf.

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  2. An image of composer Johann Sebastian Bach with stylised musical notation overlayed in tones of teal.

    Johann Sebastian Bach

    German –

    Johann Sebastian Bach is considered one of the greatest composers in the history of Western music.

    In his day Bach was revered as a virtuoso organist, however his legacy lies in the hundreds of hugely innovative, musically complex works he left behind. His use of counterpoint, religious and numerological symbols opened new dimensions of composition and musical quality which continue to amaze musicians and audiences today.

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  3. An image of composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart with stylised musical notation overlayed in tones of teal.

    Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

    Austrian –

    Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was the ultimate child prodigy — he began doing concert tours of Europe aged six.

    After spending his early years employed in the Salzburg court he moved to Vienna, where he composed many of his best-known works. Mozart's mastery of all forms of music and his idiomatic, uncomplicated style are a defining feature of the Classical era.

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  4. An image of composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky with stylised musical notation overlayed in tones of teal.

    Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

    Russian –

    The music of Russian composer Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky is immediately recognisable for its emotional depth and lush melodies.

    Tchaikovsky enrolled in the Saint Petersburg Conservatory shortly after it opened, where he studied music and his reputation as an accomplished composer steadily grew. During his life he experienced many personal difficulties which led him to periods of considerable depression, and he died shortly after finishing his sixth and arguably most well-known symphony.

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  5. An image of composer George Frideric Handel with stylised musical notation overlayed in tones of teal.

    George Frideric Handel

    British –

    George Frideric Handel (also Georg Friedrich Händel) was a Baroque composer known his operas, oratorios, anthems and organ concertos.

    Handel was born in what is now Germany, but most of his career was spent in London. His major works are still used in British ceremonies such as coronations, and annual events in Britain including Christmas celebrations.

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  6. An image of composer Antonio Vivaldi with stylised musical notation overlayed in tones of teal.

    Antonio Vivaldi

    Italian –

    Antonio Vivaldi was one of the pioneer composers of the Italian Baroque.

    Born in Venice, he trained as both a violinist and priest. When he was 25, Vivaldi was appointed the ""master of violin"" at an orphanage called the Pio Ospedale della Pietà. He served in various roles at the orphanage over many years and wrote some of his most loved works whilst he was there. Despite Vivaldi's success, his music declined in popularity over his final years and he died in poverty at the age of

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  7. An image of composer Frédéric Chopin with stylised musical notation overlayed in tones of teal.

    Frédéric Chopin

    Polish –

    Frédéric Chopin was an influential Polish composer, teacher and pianist of the Romantic era.

    His performances were renowned for their nuance of expression, and his experimentations with improvisation and style revolutionised piano technique.

    All of Chopin's works involve the piano and his contribution to the instrument's repertoire has had a significant and lasting influence.

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  8. An image of composer Franz Schubert with stylised musical notation overlayed in tones of teal.

    Franz Schubert

    Austrian –

    Franz Schubert was a prolific composer whose music was an important bridge between the Classical and Romantic eras.

    Born into a musical family, he was a gifted pianist, organist, violinist and boy soprano. His foray into composition began with lessons from Antonio Salieri, with whom he went on to study for 13 years. In his relatively short lifetime, Schubert had a huge musical output across orchestral music, piano and chamber music, and most notably German lied.

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  9. An image of composer Sergei Rachmaninov with stylised musical notation overlayed in tones of teal.

    Sergei Rachmaninov

    Russian –

    Considered to be the last great composer of the Romantic tradition in Russia, Sergei Rachmaninov was also a brilliant pianist and an accomplished conductor.

    Following his studies at the Moscow Conservatory, Rachmaninov quickly rose to fame to become one of the finest pianists of his day. His technical proficiency in performance was reflected in the idiomatic style and complexity of his writing. Rachmaninov's works are now among the most popular in the Romantic repertoire, known for their lush harmonies, lyrical inspiration and vivid range of colours.

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  10. An image of composer Edward Elgar with stylised musical notation overlayed in tones of teal.

    Edward Elgar

    British –

    Sir Edward Elgar was an English composer, known for bringing about a renaissance in English music.

    Elgar's active years spanned both the Romantic period and the start of the 20th century. His work is often anthemic or evocative of the British countryside, and holds much national appeal, even to this day.

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  11. Ralph Vaughan Williams


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  12. Felix Mendelssohn

    German –

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  13. Antonín Dvořák

    Czech –

  14. Johannes Brahms

    German –

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  15. John Williams

    American –

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  16. Elena Kats-Chernin

    Australian –

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  17. Jean Sibelius

    Finnish –

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  18. Peter Sculthorpe

    Australian –

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  19. Giacomo Puccini

    Italian –

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  20. Gustav Mahler

    Austro-Bohemian –

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  21. Giuseppe Verdi

    Italian –

  22. Claude Debussy

    French –

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  23. Camille Saint-Saëns

    French –

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  24. Dmitri Shostakovich

    Russian –

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  25. Joseph Haydn

    Austrian –

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  26. Arvo Pärt

    Estonian –

  27. George Gershwin

    American –

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  28. Maurice Ravel

    French –

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  29. Edvard Grieg

    Norwegian –

  30. Ross Edwards

    Australian –

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  31. Nigel Westlake

    Australian –

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  32. Sergei Prokofiev

    Russian –

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  33. Hildegard von Bingen

    German –

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  34. Georges Bizet

    French –

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  35. Richard Wagner

    German –

  36. Philip Glass

    American –

  37. Erik Satie

    French –

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  38. Leonard Bernstein

    American –

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  39. Gabriel Fauré

    French –

  40. Ennio Morricone

    Italian –

  41. Richard Strauss

    Austrian –

  42. Gustav Holst

    British –

  43. Aaron Copland

    American –

  44. Claudio Monteverdi

    Italian –

  45. Henry Purcell

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  46. Igor Stravinsky

    Russian –

  47. Robert Schumann

    German –

  48. Georg Philipp Telemann

    German –

  49. Max Bruch

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  50. Benjamin Britten

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  51. Alexander Borodin

    Russian –

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  52. Thomas Tallis

    British –

  53. Franz Liszt

    Hungarian –

  54. Joaquín Rodrigo

    Spanish –

  55. Gioachino Rossini

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  56. Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov

    Russian –

  57. Hector Berlioz

    French –

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  58. Percy Grainger

    Australian –

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  59. Hans Zimmer

    German –

  60. Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach

    German –

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  61. Samuel Barber

    American –

  62. Clara Schumann

    German –

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  63. Aram Khachaturian

    Armenian –

  64. Astor Piazzolla

    Argentinian –

  65. Ludovico Einaudi

    Italian –

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  66. Johann Strauss II

    Austrian –

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  67. Karl Jenkins

    British –

  68. John Rutter

    British –

  69. Anton Bruckner

    Austrian –

  70. Luigi Boccherini

    Italian –

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  71. Bedřich Smetana

    Czech –

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  72. Arthur Sullivan

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  73. Tomaso Albinoni

    Italian –

  74. Modest Mussorgsky

    Russian –

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  75. Johann Strauss I

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  76. William Byrd

    British –

  77. Béla Bartók

    Hungarian –

  78. Johann Pachelbel

    German –

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  79. Arcangelo Corelli

    Italian –

  80. Max Richter

    German/British –

  81. Howard Shore

    Canadian –

  82. Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina

    Italian –

  83. Fanny Mendelssohn

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  84. Ottorino Respighi

    Italian –

  85. John Barry

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  86. Gregorio Allegri

    Italian –

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  87. William Barton

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  88. Niccolò Paganini

    Italian –

  89. Jules Massenet

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  90. Peggy Glanville-Hicks

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  91. Michael Nyman

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  92. Erich Korngold

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  93. Graeme Koehne

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  94. Jean-Philippe Rameau

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  95. Henryk Górecki

    Polish –

  96. Sally Whitwell

    Australian –

  97. Domenico Scarlatti

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  98. Carl Vine

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  99. Carl Orff

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  100. Francis Poulenc

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Sours: https://www.abc.net.au/classic/classic/composer//

Composers 100 greatest classical

Top Greatest and Legendary Classical Composers


- A -
  • Agostino Steffani - ().
  • ALBAN BERG - ().
  • Alexander Scriabin - ().
  • Andr&#; Gr&#;try - ().
  • Anton Reicha - ().
  • ANTON WEBERN - ().
  • ANTONIN DVO&#;ÁK - ().
  • Arcangelo Corelli - ().
  • ARNOLD SCH&#;NBERG - ().

    - B -
  • BÉLA BARTÓK - ().

    - C -
  • CARL CZERNY - ().
  • Carl Michael Bellman - ().
  • CARL NIELSEN - ().
  • CARL ORFF - ().
  • C&#;SAR FRANCK - ().
  • Charles Gounod - ().

    - D -
  • Daniel Auber - ().
  • Daniel Steibelt - ().
  • Dmitri Shostakovich - ().

    - E -
  • EDVARD GRIEG - ().
  • EDWARD ELGAR - ().
  • Emanuel Aloys F&#;rster - ().
  • ERIK SATIE - ().
  • &#;tienne M&#;hul - ().

    - F -
  • Ferdinand Ries - ().
  • Fran&#;ois-Adrien Boieldieu - ().
  • Fran&#;ois-Joseph Gossec - ().
  • Franz Anton Hoffmeister - ().
  • Franz Clement - ().
  • Franz Leh&#;r - ().
  • FRANZ LISZT - ().
  • Friedrich von Flotow - ().

    - G -
  • GABRIEL FAUR&#; - ().
  • Gaspare Spontini - ().
  • Giacomo Meyerbeer - ().
  • Gian Carlo Menotti - ().
  • Giovanni Battista Pergolesi - ().
  • Giovanni Battista Viotti - ().
  • Giovanni Maria Ruggieri - ().
  • Giovanni Paisiello - ().
  • Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina - (c. ).
  • GY&#;RGY LIGETI - ().

    - H -
  • Hans Rott - (). His music is little-known today, though he received high praise in his time from Gustav Mahler & Anton Bruckner.
  • Hubert Parry - ().

    - I -
  • Ignaz von Seyfried - ().
  • IGNAZ PLEYEL - ().
  • Igor Stravinsky - ().

    - J -
  • Johann Joseph Fux - (c. ).
  • Johann Nepomuk Hummel - ().
  • Johannes Ockeghem - (/).
  • JOSEPH HAYDN - ().
  • JOSEPH WEIGL - ().
  • Joseph W&#;lfl - ().

    - K -

    - L -
  • L&#;o Delibes - ().
  • Les Six - name given to a group of six French composers who worked in Montparnasse. Their music is often seen as a reaction against the musical style of Richard Wagner and the impressionist music of Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel. The members were Georges Auric (–), Louis Durey (–), Arthur Honegger (–), Darius Milhaud (–), Francis Poulenc (–), and Germaine Tailleferre (–).
  • Louis Spohr - ().

    - M -
  • Maurice Durufl&#; - ().
  • Muzio Clementi - ().

    - N -
  • Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov - ().

    - P -

    - R -
  • Reynaldo Hahn - ().

    - S -

    - T -
  • The Five - (also known as The Mighty Handful & The New Russian School). Were five prominent, 19th-century Russian composers who worked together to create a distinctly Russian classical music. Mily Balakirev (the leader), C&#;sar Cui, Modest Mussorgsky, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and Alexander Borodin all lived in Saint Petersburg, and collaborated from to

    - V -

    - W -
  • Sours: https://www.theinternationalman.com/classical-composers.php
    100 Most Famous Classical Pieces

    The 50 Greatest Composers of All Time

    Who do today’s leading composers rate as the finest? We asked of them that very question and here, in their own words, we present the fascinating results.

    ‘Making decisions concerning the “greatest” this or that is always problematic,’ replies composer Brian Ferneyhough, when BBC Music Magazine asks him to name his greatest five composers in history. And, to be fair, he has a point. Can one really compare figures who were writing music years apart? Or weigh the intricate craftmanship of a two-minute piano piece up against the grand vision that goes into a four-hour opera?

    Nonetheless, when faced with the same question, Ferneyhough gamely named his top five – as did other leading composers from across the globe.

    To clarify things, we set out the criteria for greatness as follows:

    1. originality – to what extent did your chosen composers take music in new and exciting directions?
    2. impact – how greatly did they influence the musical scene both in their own lifetime and in years/centuries to come?
    3. craftmanship – from a technical point of view, how brilliantly constructed is their music?
    4. sheer enjoyability – quite simply, how much pleasure does their music give you?

    He we present the Top 50, in descending order, with each composer personally appraised by one of those who voted for them.

    50 Sergei Rachmaninov ()

    Russian virtuoso pianist, gifted melodist and one of the greats of late-Romanticism

    John Rutter says:

    Rachmaninov belongs to the aristocracy of composers. He never wrote a piece of music unless he had something to say and he never repeated himself; he never outstayed his welcome. No two of his piano pieces are alike, each one creates its own world. He lays his soul before us in music like the Second Symphony, yet it is noble as much as passionate.

    His melodic invention is to die for, his harmonic flavour subtle and instantly recognisable, his orchestration rich yet never cloying. He has the gift of making his music seem as if he is speaking just to you.

    Recommended recording:

    Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No. 4
    Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli (piano); Philharmonia/Ettore Gracis ()

    Read our review of this recording here.

    Read reviews of Rachmaninov latest recordings here

    49 Robert Schumann ()

    German Romantic composerwhose unstable mind spawned complex masterpieces

    Bent Sørensen says:

    Bach and Mozart write perfect music, but there’s a fragile quality to Schumann’s perfection. I grew up listening  to violin concertos, because my father played the violin. There’s something about Schumann’s Violin Concerto; the music reminded me of myself. I feel close to Schumann, both personally and professionally.

    Recommended recording:

    Schumann: String Quartets Nos
    Doric String Quartet
    Chandos CHAN

    Read our review of this recording here.


    Read reviews of Schumann latest recordings here

    48 Pierre Boulez ()

    Serialist, modernist, conductor and founder of Ensemble intercontemporain

    Dai Fujikura says:

    Boulez is simply the best! Musically speaking, not only was he ground-breaking at the time, but his harmony and sonority are always gorgeous – if you slice his music, every bit is beautiful. He has done so much for other composers, too, building institutions and shaping how contemporary music is programmed in normal orchestral concerts.

    Recommended recording:

    Read reviews of Boulez latest recordings here

    47 Hildegard von Bingen ()

    Theologian, mystic and now a saint, Hildegard composed sacred monophony

    Jessica Curry says:

    I first discovered Hildegard’s music through the rave scene – Orbital’s trippy track Belfast uses a beautiful sample of O Euchari and I was instantly hooked. I eventually found out what the sample was and Hildegard has remained a constant companion ever since. As with all the best music, I think it’s impossible to describe her work – it is something that simply has be experienced. I’m a staunch atheist and yet somehow her music is a sublime taste of the divine.

    Recommended recording:

    Read reviews of Hildegard von Bingen latest recordings here

    46 Thomas Tallis (c)

    English composer known best for his sacred polyphonic choral works

    Gabriel Jackson says:

    From ornate Marian effusions to syllabic settings in English, Tallis’s music encompasses all the diversity of styles that were required of a 16th-century English composer due to the frequent changes of monarch (and, therefore, religion): it’s ecstatic, propulsive, luminous, florid (or simple), with a harmonic richness and melodic grace that is very special.

    Whether simple four-part homophony or the complex micropolyphony and dazzling sonic spectacle of Spem in alium, everything a composer interested in choral music needs to learn can be found here.

    Recommended recording:

    Read reviews of Tallis latest recordings here

    45 Erik Satie ()

    An original thinker, dadaist, artist, pianist and creator of furniture music

    Gerald Barry says:

    Just as Beckett withdrew from Joyce to carve his own world, Satie withdrew from Debussy to carve his. He came out of nowhere – nothing like him before or since. No wonder he wrote ‘furniture music’ (background music). His music is Things As They Are. His Vexations, to be played times, might as well be played a million times.

    It could go on until the world ends. Its unknowability, inscrutability and mystery allows that. His magnificent Socrate is like someone walking around a room thinking out loud, dictating to a poignantly detached typist.

    Recommended recording:

    Read reviews of Satie latest recordings here

    44 Karlheinz Stockhausen ()

    German modernist; supporter of serialism; writer of electronic and aleatory music

    Rolf Hind says:

    That Stockhausen is on the front cover of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper album simply attests to his massive reach in the 20th century. His own Gesamtkunst includes language, technology, dance, space and the planet. Stockhausen both benefited from the timing of his birth (massive investment in German radio stations, orchestras, technology) and suffered for it (the challenges of being German in the 20th century) to imbue all influences in his music.

    Like the great obsessive German Sanskritists of the 19th century, he has come back from the brink with the key to extraordinary messages, discoveries from before, and perhaps beyond…

    Recommended recording:

    Read reviews of Stockhausen latest recordings here

    43 Stephen Sondheim (b)

    American composer, song writer and director specialising in musical theatre

    Paul Mealor says:

    The very greatest composers are able to sustain us in our darkest moments as well as making us laugh and filling us with joy. For me, Sondheim is one of those. From the most intense and brilliant large-scale, dramatic structures (such as Sweeney Todd or Assassins) to the lightest of melodies (A Little Night Music), and from the simplest of chords (Into the Woods) to the most dense harmonies (Follies), he has it all. He is clever without tricking us, and never ‘writes down’ to us.

    Recommended recording:

    Read reviews of Sondheim latest recordings here

    42 Oliver Knussen ()

    The British conductor and composer was a popular Aldeburgh mentor

    Charlotte Bray says:

    Above all, it is the craftsmanship that makes Knussen’s music important. Every note and marking he made on the page was impeccably heard. No piece was complete until everything was precisely in place. His music is totally original and exciting, infused with a sense of adventure and wit, and will inspire for years to come.

    Recommended recording:

    Read reviews of Knussenlatest recordings here

    41 Harrison Birtwistle (b)

    Part of the New Manchester School, Birtwistle combines myth and modernism

    Eleanor Alberga says:

    Birtwistle’s music speaks in a voice totally its own. The endless re-invention and development as his music unfolds, together with the intensity of the contrapuntal textures, take the ear on an utterly unpredictable yet always completely immersive journey. Gawain and The Minotaur, the two operas I’m most familiar with, enveloped me in a primeval soundworld. I felt viscerally amazed and taken to a better ‘place’ as a result.

    Recommended recording:

    Read reviews of the latest Birtwistle recordings here

    40 Edward Elgar ()

    Britain’s symphonic master with a natural ear for yearning melodies

    Christopher Gunning says:

    Is it even possible to envisage the English countryside without hearing Elgar? To take individual pieces, I would say that all the variations of his Enigma Variations are perfect – not just ‘Nimrod’ – and it is one of the finest examples of that format ever written. His First Symphony, meanwhile, is one of the most profoundly optimistic things that has ever been written. It’s a work that goes back to Brahms, or probably pre-Brahms, and has that wonderful combination of lyricism on the one hand and real emotional striving on the other.

    Recommended recording:

    Read reviews of the latest Elgar recordings here

    39 Giuseppe Verdi ()

    Italian operatic master whose enduring arias are beloved the world over

    Qigang Chen says:

    The five composers I voted for all have something in common: they were unconcerned with keeping up with the latest fashions and were relatively free of outside influence. They were, in short, utterly individual. Verdi’s age coincided with the height of Austro-Germanic rationalist dominance in philosophy, literature, and music, but he did without such glorious guiding principles. He had no philosopher friends, but was a common man, a farmer who retired to the countryside. True artistic vitality exists independently from the influence of worldly power, and Verdi’s music has this kind of particular quality.

    Recommended recording:

    Read reviews of the latest Verdi recordings here

    38 Richard Strauss ()

    Late-Romantic composer of richly scored tone poems and heady operas

    Colin Matthews says:

    It is all too easy to overlook Richard Strauss’s significance, but in the remarkable sequence of tone poems spanning 25 years, from Don Juan to the Alpine Symphony, he showed both an orchestral mastery and a remarkable capacity for invention and structural innovation. The operas Salome and Elektra are as stylistically advanced as almost anything being written in the first decade of the 20th century. The music of Strauss’s last years – starting with Capriccio in , encompassing the two wind serenades, the Second Horn Concerto and the Oboe Concerto, and culminating in the Four Last Songs – is among the most perfect music of all time.

    Recommended recording:

    Read reviews of the latest Richard Strauss recordings here

    37 William Byrd ()

    Tudor England’s choral great also composed dozens of refined keyboard works

    Bob Chilcott says:

    It took me a while to realise what a wonderful composer Byrd is. As a young chorister the thought of singing his ‘Great’ Service filled me with horror. Years later I listened endlessly to a recording of this piece by The Tallis Scholars and marvelled at its sonority and the tumbling counterpoint of the Nunc Dimittis. I later came to know his Advent motet Vigilate. There are tactile, sensual and deeply human elements in his music that transmit beautifully to the flow of breath and to singing lines.

    Recommended recording:

    Read our reviews of the latest Byrd recordings here

    36 Anton Webern ()

    Twelve-tone serialist and key member of the Second Viennese School

    Howard Skempton says:

    What is extraordinary is the integrity of Webern’s music. It has a sort of elegance and strength in itself. It’s almost as if he’s contemplating music like a mathematical formula, trying to work out what it might unlock. He reveals the possibility of a different musical landscape.

    That’s what excited me when I first heard the Six Pieces for Orchestra in my late teens – I became aware that there was an entirely new way of composing. He influenced the post-War generation, the serialists, experimental composers and, beyond that, the minimalists. His reach has been extraordinary.

    Recommended recording:

    Read our reviews of the latest Webern recordings here

    35 Edgar Varèse ()

    Electro-acoustic pioneer and creator of ‘organised sound’

    Brian Ferneyhough says:

    Varèse’s Octandre was the first ‘contemporary’ work to make a deep and lasting impression on me when, aged 15, I came across a partial recording at school. It struck me as unsentimental, sharp-contoured and authoritatively capricious. As a wind player, I could appreciate its skill in stretching each instrument just beyond its normal comfort zone, while its intersections of complex rhythmic and colouristic patterning seemed brilliantly realised.

    Many years later, I wrote a work based on the exact ensemble used by Varèse, plus a solo violin. I have never understood why the Octandre instrumentation never became a standard combination, such as that of Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire.

    Recommended recording:

    Read our reviews of the latest Varèserecordings here

    34 Morton Feldman ()

    American composer who experimented with notation and duration

    Shiva Feshareki says:

    Feldman’s music has its own aesthetic and pace. At the time of creation, his work seemed completely independent, yet somehow it formed a bridge between many schools of thought. In my mind, his music is like an intricate tapestry, which gets magnified until you experience every element of the work.

    It requires commitment and concentration, as often his compositions last many hours. But eventually, it is as though the music has shifted your perspective on reality. You’re changed, and you think and feel with a broader perspective.

    Recommended recording:

    Read our reviews of the latest Feldmanrecordings here

    33 Alban Berg ()

    Part of the serialist collective, Berg’s music is packed with ciphers and codes

    Outi Tarkiainen says:

    Alban Berg brought into life the theoretical inventions of the Second Viennese School, creating tone serialism that was not only technically masterful and internally coherent, but also powerful in expression and full of artistic pleasure. His music is a crucial link between eras – his forms and teleology are modern yet firmly drawing from the Romantic tradition. Unlike in the second half of the 20th century, today’s contemporary music is again daring to exploit many elements from the Romantic era, and so Berg’s influence continues to be utterly relevant.

    Recommended recording:

    Read our reviews of the latest Bergrecordings here

    32 Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky ()

    Ballets and biographical symphonies are at the heart of this Russian Romantic’s work

    Joby Talbot says:

    If you were to greet some aliens who had landed and wanted to know what classical music sounded like, you could do much worse than point them in the direction of Tchaikovsky. To me, growing up, it was just the quintessential, beautiful, extraordinary, poetic and melodic orchestral and vocal music. He was obviously the master of melody, but I also love the heart-on-sleeve emotional palette and the rhythmic element of his music. You look at the dynamic markings in the scores; he has everything from ppppp to fffff! As a kid playing in orchestras it was like running a marathon, but always with a sense of inclusivity, fun and mischief.

    Recommended recording:

    Read our reviews of the latest Tchaikovskyrecordings here

    31 John Cage ()

    Leader of the American avant-garde; inventor of the prepared piano

    Gavin Bryars says:

    For me, John Cage was one of the two major artists of the 20th century – the other being Marcel Duchamp. Both questioned what can count as art and both pursued their questioning to the most fundamental level, in Cage’s case through the rigours of his musical and philosophical thinking. He took music back to the condition of zero with the so-called silent piece 4’33”, but with a lightness of spirit that one could never find in other areas of the avant-garde. I first met him in when he performed in London with Merce Cunningham.

    Witnessing the invention and elegance of their collaboration, I knew that this was what I wanted to do, moving away, as I was, from what I felt were the confines of jazz and free improvisation. Cage’s music is constantly surprising, often baffling and always liberating.

    Recommended recording:

    Read our reviews of the latest John Cagerecordings here

    30 Witold Lutosławski ()

    The brilliant Polish composer and conductor was a renowned orchestrator

    Sebastian Fagerlund says:

    I became acquainted with Lutosławski’s music in my early teenage years. His Livre pour Orchestre has since then remained one of the scores I regularly return to and in which I always find something new. In Lutosławski’s orchestral works there is a masterly control of the conception of time through the manipulation of timbre, texture and musical shapes and arcs.

    What strikes me above all is what a humane composer he is. Even in the most aleatorically advanced and texturally complex sections, his music communicates with such directness. The music also feels simultaneously playfully inviting, as well as highly expressive and acutely demanding of one’s full attention.

    Recommended recording:

    Read our reviews of the latest Lutosławskirecordings here

    29 Sergei Prokofiev ()

    Russian composer who balanced Romanticism with a hard modernist style

    Gabriel Prokofiev says:

    I guess people will think I’m prejudiced to choose my own grandfather, but I think my choice is justified. Prokofiev has an unmistakable sound, such a unique voice, particularly in his catchy yet quirky melodic writing and original approach to harmony; it’s almost impossible to mistake him for any other composer. He managed to continue composing exciting melodies right up until the s when almost all other 20th-century composers had moved away from tonally rooted themes. His melodies still sounded fresh and new.

    Plus, of course, his music has had a wide impact – Peter and the Wolf and RomeoandJulietin particular have become part of the global musical canon beyond just the realms of classical music.

    Recommended recording:

    Read our reviews of the latest Prokofievrecordings here

    28 Charles Ives ()

    Way ahead of his time, the American composer invented modern music

    Morten Lauridsen says:

    Ives was possibly the most original composer in history, whose influence was only felt years after his astonishing works became known – a pioneer in new directions for orchestration, musical form, harmony, text setting (especially his songs), rhythm, piano writing, tuning and more, predating many composers who later experimented in these areas. His Three Places in New England in particular remains a stunning model of his innovations.

    Recommended recording:

    Read our reviews of the latest Ivesrecordings here

    27 Philip Glass (b)

    First-wave minimalist and composer of hypnotic film music and opera

    Oliver Davis says:

    Despite the extremely varied styles of Philip Glass’s output over the years, as soon as you hear his music you instantly know it couldn’t be anyone else: his harmonic language is that distinctive and he has an extraordinary gift for melody. Though minimalism is now a very accepted genre, I wonder how difficult it must have been as a young composer in the s to reject the assumed modernist path set by the likes of Stockhausen and Boulez, and instead start a new genus of music.

    It must have taken enormous conviction and self belief. The result is a unique and lasting repertoire of stunning music that has credibility and universal appeal. His enduring influence cannot be underestimated.

    Recommended recording:

    Read our reviews of the latest Glassrecordings here

    26 George Gershwin ()

    Versatile American composer-pianist who melded jazz and classical

    Carl Davis:

    Gershwin is, for me, the first great American composer, whose career path followed a trajectory from Tin Pan Alley song-plugger into Broadway musicals and inevitably Hollywood film musicals. His jazz-infused Rhapsody in Bluepremiered at the holy grail of classical music, Carnegie Hall, and while his glorious opera Porgy and Bess may have opened on Broadway, it eventually reached the Met and the Royal Opera House. Above all, there is the music itself: a tremendous achievement. His unique style never fails to both intrigue and move me.

    Recommended recording:

    Read our reviews of the latest Gershwin recordings here

    25 Franz Schubert ()

    Austrian Romantic famed for his profound song cycles and sublime sonatas

    Stephen Hough says:

    There are many reasons we might consider a composer great: innovation and originality, or the sheer consistency that results in many masterpieces. But for me, Schubert’s unique stature, alongside those traits, is his ability to speak to the human heart in all its fragility and vulnerability. Without sentimentality or falsehood he reaches beyond the ears of his listeners to their hearts. We sense that he empathises with the deepest longings of our souls, yet somehow still respects our boundaries.

    After his body began to break down in illness, his inspiration took flight. It was a high price for him, but for us, left with his miraculous works, it is a trove of priceless treasures.

    Recommended recording:

    Read our reviews of the latest Schubert recordings here

    24 Leos Janáček ()

    The Czech composer memorialised folkloric traditions through magical music

    Anna Meredith says:

    I’ve always returned to Janáček’s music over the years. There’s a lot of technical skill and his ear for orchestral colour and pacing really jump out to me, but I think it’s the boldness that I love, the theatricality and variety in his Sinfonietta, the humour in something like The Cunning Little Vixen, the big dramatic shapes of the chamber pieces. I think I once heard him described as a ‘composer’s composer’, which I agree with because I don’t know any composers who don’t like his music.

    However, that statement could make his music seem like something to be admired or studied, but I think he’s so much more immediate than that. It takes a lot of skill to write in a way that sounds so instinctive and fresh, but that desire to communicate the identity of each moment is something that’s inspired me.

    Recommended recording:

    Read our reviews of the latest Janáček recordings here

    23 Carlo Gesualdo ()

    Murderous Italian choral composer with a taste, too, for twisted harmonies

    Elena Langer says:

    I first heard Gesualdo’s music while studying at the Moscow Conservatory and feeling suffocated by convention: old polyphony, Baroque, dodecaphony… Why did his year-old music sound so fresh, shocking and timeless? Independent, passionate and flouting the rules, Gesualdo found the perfect musical means to express his tortured soul. Sliding chromatic voices always react precisely to their text, building into almost Wagnerian harmonies. The greatest composers speak the musical language of their times but transform it to say something important and unique. His madrigals are like really intense short operas.

    Recommended recording:

    Read our reviews of the latest Gesualdo recordings here

    22 Arnold Schoenberg ()

    Father of serialism, exquisite orchestrator and respected music theorist

    Brian Elias says:

    Schoenberg’s ideas have been immeasurably influential and his legacy still affects us today. His bravery and integrity are second to none; he discovered a new system of composition that has since proved to have its limitations but, at the same time, he initiated new and radical ways of thinking about how music is and should be composed. For so many composers of my generation, works such as Pierrot Lunaire and the Three Piano Pieces Op. 11 remain pinnacles of creative imagination and originality.

    Recommended recording:

    Read our reviews of the latest Schoenberg recordings here

    21 Ralph Vaughan Williams ()

    Pastoral scenes and Tudor influences are to the fore in this English composer’s output

    David Bednall says:

    For me, the power of Vaughan Williams’s music is its emotional directness and expressive power. His soundworld is so distinctive that you know immediately who the composer is, and yet it seems infinitely variable – simply compare his Fourth Symphony with his Fifth, for example.

    It also has that quality of seeming to be very personal and for all its technical brilliance and skill, it was written for you to understand. There is also that incredible ability to combine the ancient and new into a unique mix which is neither one or the other but could only be RVW. The Fantasia on a theme of Thomas Tallis is the most obvious example of this.

    Recommended recording:

    Read our reviews of the latest Vaughan Williams recordings here

    20 Frederic Chopin ()

    Polish Romantic whose colossal output transformed the piano repertoire

    Jake Heggie says:

    Just a few notes and you know it’s him: a singular, indelible, inspired soul whose profoundly beautiful, brave, impeccably crafted music resonates across time and culture. Is there anyone like Chopin? He didn’t write symphonies or operas; he knew where his gifts lay and relentlessly explored the technical and expressive possibilities within that realm.

    He has been the gateway and inspiration for millions of pianists, teachers and composers of all stripes. His humanity walked me through the toughest times of my life: my father’s suicide, coming out during the AIDS crisis, the hand injury that changed the course of my life. Chopin was always there with me.

    Recommended recording:

    Read our reviews of the latest Chopin recordings here

    19 Steve Reich (b)

    American minimalist, expert crafter of clean lines and propulsive melodies

    Stewart Copeland says:

    Steve Reich could be regarded as the saviour of modern classical music. Somewhere in the middle of the 20th century, the idea took hold among even the best composers that music sophistication equals pain. Reich himself started with intellectual high concept, but then landed on something that allowed him to take a different direction: simple beauty. His minimalism eschews rules of structure, form, contour and rhythm.

    Recommended recording:

    Read our reviews of the latest Reich recordings here

    18 Johannes Brahms ()

    A Romantic composing giant of rich, ripe textures and winsome melodies

    Mark Simpson says:

    The best of Brahms exists in the moments when he transcends his grounded, earthy sense of being and take us to a higher state of spiritual awareness – the passage between the human and the spiritual world. He was in essence deeply human but also had a developed spiritual side that he had access to. It’s this striving for a higher state of expressive consciousness that I take most from his work.

    Recommended recording:

    Read our reviews of the latest Brahms recordings here

    17 Kaija Saariaho (b)

    Finnish composer working across electro-serialist and spectralist fields

    Anna Thorvaldsdottir says:

    Kaija Saariaho is one of the monumental composers of our time. There are so many wonderful things that can be said about her music, especially her great pieces for larger forces – many of which are personal favourites. In addition, I feel that the powerful presence of her music over the years has been particularly important as a role model for younger generations, not least for younger women in music that find inspiration and encouragement in such a compelling composer. This multifaceted influence will, without doubt, carry on to shape the music of the future.

    Recommended recording:

    Read our reviews of the latest Saariahorecordings here

    16 Joseph Haydn ()

    Symphonic pioneer who played a key role in the development of chamber music

    Rodney Newton says:

    The father of the symphony and the string quartet, ‘Papa’ Haydn laid the foundations for the development of these forms, and his inventiveness and originality were the inspiration and model for countless others.

    As with JS Bach, the fecundity of Haydn’s output and its range is staggering. From the point of view of sheer enjoyment, he has few parallels – his humanity bubbles out of every work. And as a fellow composer once advised me, ‘If you want to learn to write melodies, study Haydn!’

    Recommended recording:

    Read our reviews of the latest Haydnrecordings here

    15 Dmitri Shostakovich ()

    Post-Romantic composer of large-scale symphonies, orchestral works and opera

    Danny Elfman says:

    My first encounters with Shostakovich turned my musical perspective upside down. His Eighth String Quartet, for instance, hit me with such force. The opening four-note motif made an instant connection to me as it evolved into the most soulful and heartbreaking melody I had ever heard.

    Then, the way he twists and turns that motif, exposing and hiding it throughout the quartet, seemed like an impossible magic trick… slowly winding down at the end to leave just the pure unadorned melodies, with a feeling of pristine, beautiful hopelessness. As I got deeper into his music, I found certain elements coexisting: passion, impeccable craftsmanship, enthusiasm which could be almost giddy, darkness bumping into humour and pure soulfulness that enriches the world of the listener.

    Recommended recording:

    Read our reviews of the latest Shostakovich recordings here

    14 Béla Bartók ()

    Hungarian folk music clashes thrillingly with angular modernism

    Michael Berkeley says:

    Bartók is for me an unsung hero. His six string quartets are the finest cycle since Beethoven’s and in them he revolutionised writing for string instruments. But the extraordinary sounds he achieves are utterly organic and crucial to the sensibility of the music. On a larger scale, I would love to see two masterpieces coupled in a double bill at the Royal Opera House, with the opera doing Bluebeard’s Castle and the ballet doing Miraculous Mandarin – both scores of terrifying power and vision.

    Recommended recording:

    Read our reviews of the latest Bartók recordings here

    13 Olivier Messiaen ()

    In his music, the French composer looks to serialism, gamelan and birdsong

    Roxanna Panufnik says:

    Over the years, my admiration for Messiaen has grown and grown – from my first exposure to his kaleidoscopic harmony during my music college days to electrifying live performances of his timeless Turangalîla Symphony in later years. His spirituality seers through my soul as his majestic and ethereal chords blend and morph in reverent church acoustics.

    Then I discovered he, like me, had synaesthesia (which, for him, meant he saw colours when he heard sounds) and my attraction to his music made even more sense. Luckily, he has left us such an epic body of work, I have so much more discovering to look forward to.

    Recommended recording:

    Read our reviews of the latest Messiaenrecordings here

    12 Jean Sibelius ()

    Brooding Finnish landscapes and ancient folklore captured in vivid colour

    Anthony Payne says:

    My school’s gramophone society once put on the Koussevitzky recording of Sibelius’s Second Symphony and it blew me away. At the time, I couldn’t say why, but the musical language spoke to me in my then state of partial ignorance. There’s something northern and powerful about Sibelius. But it’s the idea of narrative growth in his music that really grabs me – the way he starts with an idea or a motif and allows it to develop.

    In the Seventh Symphony, the trombone solo returns three times, each time altered; you can recognise the material throughout and hear it growing. Sibelius also makes references to classical forms, but they’re completely newly aligned, as in the first movement of the Second Symphony or the tone poems such as Tapiola, which I think is one of the great works of all time.

    Recommended recording:

    Read our reviews of the latest Sibeliusrecordings here

    11 Benjamin Britten ()

    English composer of choral works, opera and song; Aldeburgh festival founder

    Cheryl Frances-Hoad says:

    The first ‘modern’ music that I remember discovering was by Britten – as an eight year-old attempting to play his Tema ‘Sacher’ on my cello. Ever since, his music has enthralled me, and it is often to his scores that I will turn to for compositional ‘advice’. To me, his music is the perfect marriage of emotion and craft, with every compositional element working together to contribute to the music’s expressive power. If I were only allowed to listen to one piece for the rest of my life, I would choose his Les Illuminations.

    Recommended recording:

    Read our reviews of the latest Brittenrecordings here

    10 Claudio Monteverdi ()

    The Italian whose musical fertility transformed every musical genre

    Eric Whitacre says:

    Monteverdi was a maverick and visionary, single-handedly changing musical paradigms. His contribution to the development of a whole new genre, opera, was incalculable. Human emotion became a source of inspiration and music a means to express human passions. Abandoning academic rules and musical preconceptions, he created ground-breaking works for decades, bridging Renaissance and Baroque – apparently effortlessly. Above all else, Monteverdi wrote supremely well-crafted and deeply beautiful music that is a joy to hear.

    Recommended recording:

    Read our reviews of the latest Monteverdirecordings here

    9 Maurice Ravel ()

    French impressionist notable for his colourful pianism and use of repetition

    Judith Bingham says:

    Both musically and as a person, Ravel has always seemed extremely mysterious to me. He reminds me of the French Baroque painter, Watteau (whose paintings inspired him) – intensely beautiful, but the picture’s meaning is always slightly out of reach. Le Tombeau de Couperin, written during World War I to memorialise friends who had been killed and in the period of his mother’s decline and death, is very light-hearted, as though he wanted to wind back time.

    Of course, all his music is incredibly original: the timbres are used to enchant. He has the unusual skill, maybe not deliberately, of writing music that can be listened to with equal satisfaction by adults and children.

    Recommended recording:

    Read our reviews of the latest Ravelrecordings here

    8 Richard Wagner ():

    Composer of epic, large-scale operas; inventor of Gesamtkunstwerk

    Jonathan Dove says:

    The scale of Wagner’s imagination is overwhelming. The Ring in particular is an immense vision of a work that lasts more than 15 hours (plus intervals), and he had the tenacity and self-belief to spend 26 years writing it. He created spectacular musical imagery of unsurpassed vividness, and had a revolutionary approach to memory and time. Whether you find his music toxic or intoxicating, you can’t ignore it.

    Recommended recording:

    Read our reviews of the latest Wagner recordings here

    7 Gustav Mahler ()

    His mighty Romantic symphonies embrace the whole of humanity

    David Matthews says:

    Mahler composed some of the greatest symphonies since Beethoven, written with an astonishing command of all aspects of compositional technique. Mahler was a Romantic, but he could not share Beethoven’s early Romantic optimism; his is a modern approach, full of doubts and uncertainties yet hardly ever falling into despair. The search for meaning is never absent, and as well as its passionate striving, Mahler’s music is often full of uninhibited joy. This is why I think it has such appeal in our own dark time.

    Recommended recording:

    Read our reviews of the latest Mahler recordings here

    6 György Ligeti ()

    The Hungarian-Austrian avant-gardist and polyrhythmic pioneer

    John Casken says:

    Ligeti is a most intriguing composer, and one whose imagination is almost limitless. Along with Lutosławski in the s, he showed us how to listen afresh to harmony and beguiled us with magical textures. He teases and plays with our expectations in a bizarre world of strange juxtapositions, tragi-comic extremes and deliberately faltering mechanisms.

    At one moment the music is within our grasp and the next it’s out of reach. I love the joy and exuberance but, at the same time, the pathos and profundity of the Horn Trio, and the lamenting and ghostly ocarinas in the Piano Concerto are almost unbearable. His Études for Piano, meanwhile, seem to reflect something beyond human perception. Here, and in so many other ways, he touches on the very human question of ‘what is real and what is not?’.

    Recommended recording:

    Read our reviews of the latest Ligeti recordings here

    5 Claude Debussy ()

    Creator of lyrical melodies, poetic piano works and chamber music

    Jennifer Higdon says:

    Light and air imbue the spaces between the notes of Claude Debussy’s music. Even as a young child – long before I started down the path of music – his works would always bring me to a standstill. I was utterly fascinated by what felt like some sort of magic, descending on the air. Now, as someone who works in the same field, I am able to say that Debussy’s music sounds like a light breeze, leaving a gentle impression but with enough presence to still inspire me to stop and listen – the artistry of this ‘rebel’ composer still sounds fresh.

    Recommended recording:

    Read our reviews of the latest Debussy recordings here

    4 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart ()

    Prodigious and prolific, the Austrian composer defined the Classical era

    Augusta Read Thomas says:

    To me, Mozart’s works have an inevitability that is pure and honest, humane, human, infinitely compelling, rich, sonorous and technically fabulous; his music is at times humorous, at times gut-wrenchingly moving. In many ways, the body of work that poured out of him in his brief 35 years of life feels like pure magic, and it’s unbelievable how such a young man was able to assimilate the deepest riches of music and its possibilities.

    Yet his works are so fresh: he’s not just understanding music history and regurgitating it – his works sound like him, even as his style developed and blossomed. And his influence on the subsequent history of music is utterly profound.

    Recommended recording:

    Read our reviews of the latest Mozart recordings here

    3 Ludwig van Beethoven ()

    Straddling Classical and Romanticism, his wide-ranging music dominated his era

    John Corigliano says:

    As a composer, my goal is to achieve the perfect balance between the visceral and the cerebral elements in my music. It is extremely important to me that the listener is drawn into the drama of my work, but equally important that there are many layers of material that can be discovered with repeated listening. There are many great composers that try to achieve this goal, and some come very close to it.

    There are also many great composers that have no interest in this delicate balance. But for me, Ludwig van Beethoven is the one composer that makes music so urgent that one is immediately drawn to it, so powerful that one can hardly resist it and yet so richly layered that one will never entirely plumb the depths of its wondrous constructions. There is no one like him.

    Thea Musgrave says:

    For an example of what excites me about Beethoven, take the last movement of his Eighth Symphony. It starts in F major then suddenly the music is interrupted with a startling and unexplained C sharp played forte. The music then resumes almost as if nothing has happened! The ‘explanation’ only comes in the coda several minutes later – a wonderful example of ‘long-range’ harmonic planning. This led me as a composer to think of even my non-programmatic music in dramatic narratives and gestures.

    Recommended recording:

    You can read our reviews of the latest Beethoven recordings here

    2 Igor Stravinsky ()

    Russian iconoclast whose integrated approach to art has stood the test of time

    Mark-Anthony Turnage says:
    I suppose in many ways I’m obsessed with Iggy (as Hans Werner Henze used to call him). Every note is so beautifully placed; nothing jars or is superfluous. It moves me, because like Bach it’s so precise. I love the harmony, the Russian inflected melodies, the energy and brilliance.

    Whether it’s the serene chords that move with the bass line at the end of Symphony of Psalms, the keening at the opening of Symphonies of Wind Instruments and everything in between, including the much maligned neo-classical works, it’s all wonderful. As a composer he’s there in my life, looming over me but never an overwhelming presence; always cheeky and encouraging. His music makes me so happy, especially on dark days. I love Igor Stravinsky.

    Edward Gregson says:

    The Rite of Spring has proved to be the true birth of modernism, more than Schoenberg’s music ever was. And, rather like Picasso, Stravinsky constantly reinvented himself and his musical language, though his style remained constant – his tone music sounds as Stravinskian as any of his earlier work. There are not many composers since who have not been influenced by his creative imagination. He is the godfather of 20th-century music.

    Recommended recording:

    Read our reviews of the latest Stravinsky recordings here

    And the winner is…

    Could it be anyone else? Johann Sebastian Bach tops the list with music of breathtaking brilliance.

    1 Johann Sebastian Bach ()

    All hail JS Bach, whose spirit dwells in practically every note written since his death. With supreme contrapuntal skill, Bach sculpts music of perfect form and balance, bestowing it with an emotional power that  has echoed through the centuries. From the aching beauty of the cello suites and the bewildering ambition of the keyboard works to the dramatic force of the cantatas, no one has, and could possibly, come close to Bach‘s genius

    Steve Reich says:

    Bach to me is the greatest composer who ever lived, the genius who created the most beautiful counterpoint I have ever heard, plus the basic aria of the Goldberg Variations where I am reduced to tears. I first heard Bach’s Fifth Brandenburg Concerto as a teenager in , shortly after first hearing Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. The two pieces set me on my way. As a student, along with everyone else, Bach’s four-part chorales were essential to my study of harmony.

    Much later, I studied his Cantata No. 4 while composing Tehillim. You can hear my indebtedness to Bach’s second movement when listening to my third. They both have call-and-response structure as well as different instrumental doubling of the voices to clarify the call from the response. More recently for me, the Fifth Brandenburg served as a model for the Concerto grosso, where several instruments are soloists – it prompted my Music for Ensemble and Orchestra where there are 22 soloists, all regular members of the orchestra.

    Erkki-Sven Tüür says:

    It may be seen as almost a cliché among music lovers to consider Bach a king of music, but for me it was an obvious choice. What strikes me most in Bach’s work is how thoroughly his music is structured in terms of mathematic precision. The beauty of its inner architecture reveals a kind of cosmologic order, a touch of the divine.

    I am amazed by the unbelievable synergy of the counterpoint and harmony and the way that the horizontal and vertical are linked into a coherent whole. On the other hand, without any specific knowledge of these technical aspects, the purely sonic result of his music touches the listener deeply in the most mysterious way.

    Unsuk Chin says:

    Bach’s music displays great emotions and fiery temperament, while being the highest conceivable summit of composition as an intellectual art. It is a synthesis of past music and the creations of his own time as well as a bold vision of the future. Up to Bach, musical works disappeared after a premiere or, at least, after a composer’s death.

    Bach was too grand to be ignored. Great musical minds as diverse as Beethoven, Chopin, the masters of jazz, Boulez – and countless others – are unthinkable without Bach’s legacy. The avant-garde composer Mauricio Kagel famously quipped that ‘not all musicians believe in God, but they all believe in Johann Sebastian Bach’.

    Recommended recording:

    Read our reviews of the latest JS Bach reviews here

    Sours: https://www.classical-music.com/composers/greatest-composers-all-time/

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